A NUMBER OF THINGS by Honor Tracy
Kirkus Star

A NUMBER OF THINGS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

In The Straight and Narrow Path and The Prospects are Pleasing Honor Tracy impaled, hilariously, the particular, peculiar foibles of the backwoods Celtic temperament. In this novel she has extended her perspective to the realms of the literary and sociological ludicrous. At 24 Henry Lamb, a minor horticulturist, wrote a novel which was simply ""a quiet bit of mischief"". But when it was hailed by the literary press as a serious work of sociological import, psychological insight and emotional impact, Henry found that he was London's newest discovery. He accepted a job for a new, dynamic, progressive weekly (which specialized in articles by illiterate Trinidadians on, for example, Racial Discrimination in Shakespeare) as West Indian correspondent. The book is then an account of Henry's picaresque experiences (though at first he took it all seriously) with people who had devoted themselves to causes of one kind or another so long as they were progressive, reasonably left and fashionable. There are the young, dynamic, people on the cruise who, because they had to work for a living, tried desperately to pretend they were making a Contribution; the terribly odd island parties frequented by the English-speaking world's expatriated eccentrics and misfits who are convinced they are Doing Something for the status of the Caribbean's newly emerging colonial peoples; and then there are those islanders themselves who somehow have-become intoxicated with Culture and spend their time creating primitives and being lionized by the progressives. Finally Henry's book is discovered for what it really is, the critics are mortified and enraged and when he commits the last indignity of insulting the Governor during Carnival he gets himself deported, with a concussion. At this point Henry is quite willing to forget about being a novelist in favor of his original trade. This is a devastating application of Honor Tracy's precise talent in an area already sufficiently ridiculous and might very well be taken more seriously than her ""forays into the Irish Republic"".

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1960
Publisher: Random House